Winter Climbs 2012: Progress On Denali, Slow Going In The Karakoram

800px Nanga parbat abdul rafey

We have a few updates this morning on the major ongoing winter climbs as teams continue to tackle the various challenges they’ve set for themselves this season. As is typical in the winter, progress is often slow, but as long at the climbers are moving forward, everything is good. Of course, as always, the weather dictates the pace and direction of the action, and we all know at this time of the year, the weather is fickle indeed.

We’ll start on Denali, where Lonnie Dupre has made some progress after being stuck at 8800 feet (2682 meters) waiting out a snow storm. Yesterday a lull in the storm allowed him to move up the mountain, settling in at about 9970 feet (3038 meters) before conditions began to take a turn for the worse once again.

If you’ve been following Lonnie’s expeditions to Denali over the past few years, you probably know that he has taken the unique approach of not carrying a tent with him, choosing instead to dig snow caves to serve as shelter. In his latest dispatch he actually said that he wished he had brought a tent on this expedition. It seems temperatures are not nearly as cold as they have been in previous years, and the warmer weather is making everything wetter. As a consequence, staying in the snow caves is not as comfortable as it has been previously. Still, he’s making the best of the situation and his spirits remain high.

While the weather has been bad so far, the forecast is for improved conditions in the days ahead. With eight feet of snow on the mountain in just a few days, breaking trail is going to be tough work. But Lonnie indicated that he is rested and ready to move up as soon as the weather allows. That could happen as early as this weekend.

Moving over to the Karakoram, it seems Nanga Parbat is the place to be this season. In addition to the Hungarian-American team, there is now a small squad of Italian and French climbers in Base Camp as well. The former team is reportedly off on an acclimatization trek at the moment while they await the arrival of their missing gear. Once that equipment shows up in camp, they should have more comfortable living quarters and better communications equipment too. Meanwhile, the Italian-Franco team is reporting that the weather is not good with high winds and temperatures hovering around -39ºC/F. Those temperatures have kept everything frozen, including their food and even their sanitary wipes that are used for keeping clean. They have managed to climb as high as 6608 meters (21,679 ft) however, so their own acclimatization process is going about as well as can be expected at this point.

Finally, the Polish Broad Peak team has arrived in Skardu, where they are busily getting their gear organized and putting the final touches on their planning for the climb. They report that the roads into the small town were impassable due to bad weather, but conditions have started to improve now and temperatures have risen. They’ll travel to Askole by Jeep today where they’ll being their trek to BC itself. Once there, they actually begin the real work of actually climbing the mountain.

For a look at the city of Skardu, the launching point for many Karakoram climbing expeditions, have a look at the video below. Much like Kathmandu or Namche Bazaar, it seems that gear shops are popular there.

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “Winter Climbs 2012: Progress On Denali, Slow Going In The Karakoram”

  1. Actually, Daniel and Elisabeth tried to climb Ganalo peak (6608m) – a subsidiary peak in Nanga Parbat massif. But they had to turn back from around 6000m, as Muhammad Ali wasn't feeling well. Also weather was deteriorating.

    The excursion must have served the purpose of acclimatization but reaching 6600m on Nanga Parbat would be a lot tougher than Ganalo.

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